OSCAR PREDICTIONS 2017: The writing and directing awards
PART 4: THE WRITING AND DIRECTING AWARDS
On February 26th, Jimmy Kimmel will host the 89th Academy Awards and its time to make predictions. On this website, I've been tabulating all of the minor and lead-up award winners in all of the Oscar categories since last November on my 2017 Awards Tracker. Those results have been my data trends to predict these winners. In this fourth post, we look at the writing and directing awards covering Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Stick with me and I will win you your Oscar pool!
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The nominees: Damien Chazelle for “La La Land,” Kenneth Lonergan for “Manchester by the Sea,” Taylor Sheridan for “Hell or High Water,” Mike Mills for "20th Century Women," ”Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou for “The Lobster”
AWARDS TRACKER DATA: 19- Lonergan, 10- Sheridan, 6- Chazelle, 3- Filippou and Lanthimos, and five more with one win
Who was snubbed: Jeff Nichols would have been a great addition to this field for the originality and thematic weight of “Midnight Special.” I’m a fan of all things “Jackie” and you’ll hear it more than once on this post.
Happy to be there: Mike Mills was the upstart nominee of this field with a late-releasing film and no prior lead-up or minor award wins for "20th Century Women."
Who should win: The film is not for everyone, but the absolute ingenious originality of “The Lobster” deserves credit and appreciation. You could lock ten domestic screenwriters in a room and they couldn’t come up with that same weirdness at its level of quality.
Who will win: Damien Chazelle is making a late surge in this category riding the wave of everything “La La Land.” More often in recent years, the Academy has sought to spread the wealth. With that in mind, this is proper place to reward the universal acclaim for Kenneth Lonergan’s “Manchester by the Sea.” He won’t win Best Director and the film won’t win Best Picture, but this spot is appropriate.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The nominees: Barry Jenkins and Tarell McCraney for “Moonlight,” Eric Heisserer for “Arrival,” Luke Davies for “Lion,” Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi for "Hidden Figures," August Wilson for “Fences”
AWARDS TRACKER DATA: 18- McCraney and Jenkins, 11- Heisserer, 3- Whit Stilman for "Love and Friendship,” 2- Wilson, and six more with one win.
Who was snubbed: Since we splashed the name Jeff Nichols once, let’s go ahead a drop it again with his other 2016 film, “Loving.” But if you really want to have fun, “Deadpool” would have been a fantastic addition to the finalists of this category.
Happy to be there: No offense to its popularity and extremely positive history, but the weakest work on this list is “Hidden Figures.” It’s a bit too revisionist in its use of dramatic license to be considered one of the best of the year.
Who should win: The mobius strip Eric Heisserer wove to adapt Ted Chiang’s novella “Story of Your Life” into “Arrival” is something truly phenomenal. It might not be what Oscar tends to reward, but it’s no less impressive as a screenplay.
Who will win: Matching the award for Best Original Screenplay, this category is another place to show balance against the “La La Land” windfall. “Moonlight” is the most important narrative film of 2016 and Tarell McCraney’s story, with an assist from director Barry Jenkins, deserves this award. If Jenkins doesn’t win Best Director, this consolation prize is not too shabby.
The nominees: Damien Chazelle for "La La Land," Mel Gibson for "Hacksaw Ridge," Barry Jenkins for "Moonlight," Kenneth Lonergan for "Manchester by the Sea," Denis Villeneuve for "Arrival"
AWARDS TRACKER DATA: 24- Chazelle, 19- Jenkins, 3- Lonergan, 2- David Mackenzie for "Hell or High Water,” 2- Maren Ade for "Toni Erdmann,” and nine others with one win
Who was snubbed: I’m personally partial to Pablo Larrain’s tight and focused direction of “Jackie,” but the big name many wanted in this field was Martin Scorsese for “Silence.” While I wasn’t as high on the film as others, I can see that valid argument for his passion project.
Happy to be there: Mel Gibson is one lucky SOB. I’ll repeat the irony I wrote on the day the nominations were announced: “The frighteningly devout and conservative Catholic who was ostracized from liberal Hollywood for anti-Semitic hate got himself and his gaudy, violent, and cheesy war film nominated over the most respected legend in the game who completed a passion project expressing, get this, frighteningly devout Christian beliefs.”
Who should win and will win: Someday, Denis Villeneuve is going to win this award, maybe as soon as next year with “Blade Runner 2049.” However, this is the year of “La La Land” and Damien Chazelle threw everything but the kitchen sink into its spectacle, from extracting creative performances to driving the dizzying wonderment of its visuals. When he wins, Chazelle will be the youngest Best Director winner in Oscar history.